2022 Free Online Class Syllabus

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The HarBee Beginner Beekeeping class will take place over the course of your first year of beekeeping. Lecture and “classroom” instruction will be over Zoom on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm. While lectures are free, field days cost $65 per person. The first lecture will be hosted on February 3rd.

HarBee’s beginner beekeeping course will leave you with the tools to make informed decisions about the health of your honey bee colony and make you think like a beekeeper. Short assignments (10 minutes) and a final exam (30 minutes) will reinforce principles taught throughout 18 hours’ worth of instruction. Each assignment is necessary to be able to ask questions effectively during the next lecture.

All zoom classes are free and open to anyone who wishes to attend. However, to receive a certificate of completion at the end of the lecture, you must 1) sign up ahead of time 2) watch all previous lectures and 3) complete all assignments up to that date. Lectures will be recorded and posted to facilitate any students who need to catch up. We want to foster a real understanding of bee biology, so keep-up so you don’t miss out.

There is a $10 fee for the certificate of completion.

As a student in this course, you will be given access to a closed Facebook group to ask questions of instructor Pat Harrison and other members of the course. Click HERE for link to that page.

Instruction will be primarily by Patrick Harrison, with guest instructors on field days and during select lectures. Pat Harrison has six years of beekeeping experience and currently manages 150 colonies of bees across northern New Jersey. While getting a degree in environmental science from Ramapo College, Patrick founded HarBee Beekeeping.

Field Days will take place at the HarBee Farm in Newton NJ. Address: 408 US-206, Newton, NJ 07860.


All readings are referring to pages within the text Keeping Honey Bees Second Edition, by Malcolm T. Sanford & Richard E Bonney.

Field Days

Field day #1 Pick one of two dates:
• April 16th (rain date 17th)
• April 9th (rain date 10th)

Nucs for students that pre-order cost $190.
Goals of understanding:
• How to install nucs into the hive
• What the next couple of weeks will look like and how a honeybee colony builds up
• How to identify egg, larvae, capped brood, honey, and pollen
• How to start a smoker

Field day #2 Pick one of two dates:
Saturday June 11th (rain date June 12th)
• Saturday June 18th (rain date July 19th)

Goals of understanding:
• How to harvest honey
• Witness a demonstration of making a mating nuc
• Inspect a nuc that is building up well
• Perform a mite wash and treat a hive with formic

Field day #3 pick one of two dates:
• Saturday August 13th (rain date August 14th)
• Saturday August 20th (rain date TBA)

Goals of understanding:
• How to harvest honey
• How to prepare bees for winter
• How to feed a hive
• How to treat a hive with Apivar
• Fall requeening- students will requeen a hive


Class #1: February 3rd (CLICK HERE for recording)
Basic Honey Bee Biology
• Honeybee lifecycle
• Who is in the hive?
• Understand the basic roles of each bee in a beehive
Reading #1: pages 31-51

Class #2: February 10th (CLICK HERE for recording)
Basic Honey Bee Biology continued
• Swarming biology
Assignment #1

Class #3: February 17th (CLICK HERE for recording)
Equipment: What a person will need to keep bees
• Keeping bees in populated areas: what to build and do to be a good beekeeping neighbor
• NJ bee regulation
Reading #2: pages 53-57, 65-77
Assignment #3

Class #4: February 24th (LINK TO VIDEO)
Bee diseases and what to do
• Mite treatments and timing them with the year
Assignment #2
Reading #3: pages 159, 172-186

Class #5: March 3rd (LINK TO RECORDING)
• What are you looking for in your bees the during your first few weeks of keeping them? What are the bees doing, and what they should be doing?
Assignment #4

Class #6: March 10th (Click HERE for Zoom Link)
• Understanding the behavior of your bees
• Understanding what is wrong and what is good- are the bees healthy?
Assignment #5

Class #7: June 9th
• Talking about dearth and feeding
• Issues that might happen with Formic treatment
• Honey harvest: do’s and don’ts
• Q&A
Assignment #6

Class #8: August 11th
• Winterizing
• What are the bees and the mites doing this time of year?
• Q&A
• Discussing what was learned outside of class
Assignment #7

Writing Assignment
This won’t be a paper or anything long; rather, it will be a demonstration that the student can write an informed social media post about bees and beekeeping, or that they can be a good and productive commenter on social media posts.
Final exam
There are many experienced beekeepers willing to answer the questions of curious new beekeepers, but they are often frustrated when asked questions that could have been simply Googled. This test will consist of a few practical questions that require participants to search the Internet for answers to basic questions. It is designed is for you demonstrate that you can answer the easy questions independently, with the use of the Internet.


1: Draw a flow chart of the honey bee life cycle and at a minimum include the terms: Virgin Queen, Drone, Mated Queen and swarm.

2: Without listing the same treatment twice, list three Varroa treatments- one for winter, one for summer, and one for fall.

3: To comply with NJ regulations, what are some things that you will have do before your bees arrive? What equipment do you have? What equipment do you need?

4: At day one, Week 2, week 3, and Week 4, what is your plan, what is your goal, when you go into your hives?

5: Take a photo of a healthy frame (or an unhealthy frame) of brood from your hive. Write a post discussing what you are looking at in that photograph as if you are posting it on Facebook for your non-beekeeper friends and family to educate them and to brag about your awesome new hobby.


Make a drawing with different colors representing where the worker brood, drone brood, pollen, and honey would be put onto the frames when you have a drone layer, a healthy queen, a queen with a spotty pattern, and laying workers.

6: Post a screenshot of the weather forecast in your area into the HarBee Beekeeping Beginners Facebook group and discuss whether you will be able to treat with formic in your area, OR send this photo to Pat by email or text along with your explanation. If requested, we will call you for a short chat as to whether treatment is a good idea.

7: A Varroa mite reduces the life expectancy for an individual bee by 20 to 80%. Why is knowing that fact important to explaining why a colony with a large winter cluster turned into a small cluster and died of starvation 2 inches from honey during a cold snap in February?

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